A Rubik’s Cube was never meant to be an easy solve. Some people can put it together in less than ten seconds, but for the average individual, it can take much longer. In the workforce, each generation brings the same test for its predecessors as everyone tries to figure out the new, ambitious group of young adults that will inevitably shift the world into different angles.
Defined as anyone born after 1996, Generation Z is on the cusp of not only entering the corporate world, but overtaking Millennials as the largest percent of the global population. At a time when the world clamored to figure out the Millennials’ Rubik’s Cube, catering towards their desires, things are slowly beginning to shift. HR directors and hiring managers now have a new set of cubes to assemble and it revolves around knowing what Gen Z looks for in their workplace.
Red Side of the Cube: Company Image
Company image matters to Gen Z. With nearly half of this generation spending at least 10 hours a day on the internet, they consistently read reviews on social media, blog posts or other websites—especially those of companies they consider for employment or purchasing reasons. Employee reviews and the overall business image will play a large role in deciding where they chose to be employed. They want their company to align with them in making a difference in the world.
Ryan Marshall, regional manager of human resources at Convergint Technologies, added, “One of the things we do well is sell our culture (to them). It seems to be that this generation is first and foremost looking for the best cultural fit for them. They’re looking for a company where they’re not just a number, but they’re somewhere they can contribute to a company.”
"The key factor that differentiated these two (Millennials and Gen Z) groups, other than their age, was an element of self-awareness versus self-centeredness," said Marcie Merriman, an executive director at Ernst & Young LLP. She stated that Millennials were, "more focused on what was in it for them. They also looked to others, such as the companies they did business with, for solutions, whereas the younger people naturally sought to create their solutions."
Green Side of the Cube: Safety
For this generation, there is a heavy concern about safety. There were, on average, 16.4 mass shootings a year from 2007 to 2013 according to the New York Times, compared with an average of 6.4 shootings annually from 2000 to 2006.
From there, it is easy to understand why security is a big issue for Gen Z since they have grown up around that type of violence more than any other generation. A Forbes survey of 400 college students found that 77 percent of participants said “feeling safe” was their top office environment quality.
Blue Side of the Cube: Flexible Schedule
Of the 400 students surveyed, a flexible schedule was the highest on the list when asked about perks they desired to have from a company. That may stem from the fact that 70 percent of Gen Z have already begun earning their own money through side gigs and practically maintaining their own businesses at a young age.
Training and investment in employees ranked next on the list of expectations that Gen Z has for their employers.
Yellow Side of the Cube: Diversity
The idea of equality is important to Gen Z, and 91 percent of that generation believes that everyone is equal and should be treated that way. Issues surrounding diversity, equity and inclusion are more salient than in any other generation.
This is identified in a new Census Bureau analysis which finds the “post-Millennial” generation already the most racially and ethnically diverse generation, as a bare majority of six to 21-year-olds (52 percent) are non-Hispanic whites.
To date, Gen Z is the most accepting generation when it comes to cohesion with other cultures. In a survey by EY, it was reported that 84 percent of respondents admitted that their ability to work well with people from different backgrounds and cultures is a key skill that sets them apart from older job candidates. Of those interviewed, 97 percent of black respondents echoed that sentiment, followed by Hispanic (87 percent) and whites (82 percent).
White Side of the Cube: Job Satisfaction
For generations, money has been the key to creating a better future for families. Gen Z has similar ideas, but of those interviewed by EY, two-thirds stated that job satisfaction and financial stability are equally important.
They don’t just want to make money, but they want to be satisfied with their jobs and know that they are truly making a difference, big or small. Underemployment will not be the option for them as they seek to do better than their parents, and the generation before them.
Orange Side of the Cube: Management
Gen Z expects managers to go beyond the typical goal-focused relationships they build with Millennials and Generation X. With the addition of automation and AI, coaching for technical reasons is no longer needed. Managers are expected to relate to team members in a way that maximizes engagement, well-being and performance while also facilitating personal change.
They prefer collaborative learning in one-on-one settings. Not a “sit down” talk, but quick bursts of information that they can use to become better at their task. They want their boss to be someone they look up to while receiving a level of autonomy with the tasks they undertake. In other words, micromanagement is the quickest way to turn this generation off.
Gen Z: In Alignment
The future of our workforce rests on their shoulders, and with a little guidance, they are sure to figure the rest out on their own. Generation Z will soon eclipse Millennials as the largest generation and with that in mind, figuring out what can be done to aid in their transition into the workplace will keep Gen Z employees and employers in alignment, however colorful that transition may be.